I want to take a quick break from the usual travel stories to say a few words about the last incidents in Brussels. I am writing this post because, as someone who works in travel industry, I can feel that Brussels needs its tourists back more than ever. Businesses are suffering because tourists are staying away due to terrorist concerns. Hotels loosened their refund and changed policies in the wake of the attacks. Airbnb hosts offered their place for free to those in urgent need. Restaurants, especially those from the city center are suffering as well.
But let’s take it from the beginning.
As a result of warnings of a ‘serious and imminent threat,’ in November 2015, the government of Belgium imposed a security lockdown on Brussels, including the closure of schools, shops, malls etc. and the terror alert level was raised to the last level. Living, working and still going out in the city was challenging. I remember that I promised to write down about how the living is under ‘the level four threat.’ I hesitated, as my aim was always to show the beauty of the world, doing anything to avoid writing about the dark side. After a couple of weeks, the city seemed to rise again, ‘untouched’ from this situation.
Unfortunately, on the 22nd of March, the inevitable has happened. I started early that Tuesday, around 7AM, so I was already in my ‘safe’ place at work. Around 8:30AM having no clue of what is happening, all chat windows were asking ‘Are you ok?’ – I was already in my ‘safe’ place at work at that time. Meanwhile all TV screens were showing a devastated Brussels International Airport. Then the Maelbeek Metro station, a place well frequented by me. Words were useless.
During this week, I see many versions of the same question on forums, social media feed: Is it safe to travel to Brussels? Belgium? Europe?
Brussels is much more that what is portrayed by world media, and despite the last tough days life began to gradually return to normal. Many bloggers already started to ‘encourage’ their readers not to stop traveling because of fear. We can’t let fear stop us from traveling. From living. After all these horrible events, Brussels needs visitors now more than ever. Even The Telegraph wrote this nice article why you must keep visiting Belgium!
They have also made a nice survey showing that 69% of people – from 1920 – are still eager to visit Belgium. Which is quite encouraging…
So what could I say about the terrorist attacks on Brussels that hadn’t already said? Not much, but what I can really do, is to wake up on a Sunday morning, take my camera in one hand, a coffee in the other and go out to capture what people do best: responding to hate with love.
Belgian fries. The best in the world. No question. ‘Place Flagey’, ‘Place Jourdan’, city center…they are still there.
Same for waffles.
By the way, can you imagine a city where you can find warm waffles everywhere?
I mean, everywhere?
Last days I realized the chance I have every day to see these amazing divine piece of architecture.
Baby beauty Brussels, turning yellow during evening.
The attacks in Brussels, Ankara, Istanbul, Paris, and more recently in Lahore, Pakistan were horrific. Unspeakable tragedy. But fear – of terrorism or something else – won’t stop me from living, visiting and loving my city. Fear isn’t the answer.